The Art of PeaceI have written about using ideas from Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” in classroom management before ( read about it here ) so I hope you do think of me as inconsistent or even hypocritical for now promoting “The Art of Peace” by Morihei Ueshiba. The overall message in this slim book is one I sense we need in the World Language community and there are also many gems that can guide our daily practice in the classroom as well. I re-read it often with an eye to improving relations in World Language and also to help me to become a better teacher as I practice my craft with my students every day.

Here are some quotes that jump out at me as a classroom teacher today:

“In your training, do not be in a hurry, for it takes a minimum of ten years to master the basics and advance to the first rung. Never think of yourself as an all-knowing, perfected master; you must continue to train daily with your friends and students and progress in the Art of Peace.” p. 105

We can set new teachers on the path with a good student teaching experience, but we also need to warn and encourage them that it takes years of focused, purposeful practice to begin to develop expertise in teaching and none of us can truly say that we have arrived. The idea of training with friends and students is so appealing–hopefully we are doing some of that training in PLC’s of which this is a part.

“Progress comes to those who train and train; reliance on secret techniques will get you nowhere.” p. 106

We all are searching for those key techniques that we have been missing and there are many that are happy to sell them to us, but fluidity in teaching comes from training, not from some whiz-bang app or some secret technique. We need to find our joy in practicing the key moves of our discipline over and over; the same kick 10,000 times, as Bruce Lee said. If we focus on the basics and work on those day after day we will make progress.

“Always practice the Art of Peace in a vibrant and joyful manner.” p. 66

Teaching joyfully is what it is about. I want to bring the life and love I feel for the language I teach and the people that speak it to my students and that can only be done if I let the joy seep in to what I do as a teacher.

“Failure is the key to success; each mistake teaches us something.” p. 87

This meshes beautifully with Carol Dweck’s research and teaching in the book Mindset. I make mistakes in my teaching all the time; made a few today. That doesn’t matter. What matters is that we keep moving forward, that we get the lesson, add it to our repertoire, practice it and keep moving ahead a bit more artfully, a bit more confidently and a bit more at peace every day.

We have to start practicing the Art of Peace within ourselves; in our own minds, in our own actions and in our own classrooms and then move out to the wider world from there, my friends.

More thoughts later on how The Art of Peace applies to our World Language community as a whole.